Thabo’s Tirades: The Misrepresentation Of Geek Culture In Popular Media – Geek Node

Games: Thabo’s Tirades: The Misrepresentation Of Geek Culture In Popular Media

Written by
MG Thabo

Note: This is the opinion of the writer and does not represent the opinion of Geek Node as a publication.

I would probably consider myself a geek. Well, considering I write for a website called Geek Node, I would surely hope so. I play and have played a ton of games, I watch a ton of series and my room is possibly the template for a so-called “mancave” with figurines and posters littered everywhere. I don’t partake in a lot of other typical “geek” activities such as comic books and anime, but the little I do consume I like. But during my viewing of a lot of media, I’ve seen “geekdom” represented in the most despicable ways and I’m frankly tired of it.

The inspiration for this article comes from The Big Bang Theory which is possibly the biggest offender of this problem. I’ve watched the show to I think season 6, but I reached the point where it just became too cringeworthy to keep watching. They portrayed things we passionately enjoy as something that should be made fun of. That the fact that you play Dungeons and Dragons or play videogames makes you some sort of weird loser that partakes in an uncool activity. They also just milked references to popular geeky stuff as this lazy point of comedy. You can see this in this (hilarious) tweet:

When I first watched the show, I thought it had pure intentions of portraying a bunch of geeky guys just going about their life, but the more I watched it, the more I saw its sinister intention of making fun of people for liking and partaking in “geeky” things. They used Penny, a woman that does not understand what the geeky guys are talking about, as the person that is the closest to the mindset of the audience. When someone mentions the sick D&D game they played, she would stare at them confusedly and the canned laughter would play. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I realised that they were inadvertently making fun of me as a person.

It took me back to the time in my life where people would laugh at me for enjoying video games and card games rather than sport or going out. They kept painting the things that I thought were cool as uncool and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I don’t know if they fixed it through the subsequent seasons of the show, but I’m not bothered to watch it anymore thanks to the gross misrepresentation that was shown.

Besides The Big Bang Theory, you also see this everywhere where an audience is not clued up on the “geek world”. Like in that godawful GamerGate themed episode of Law and Order where they made such ludicrous remarks as gamers assaulting women as “leveled up” and a really odd first person “combat sequence”. Also, let’s not forget the cringiest scene of all:

The people behind the show probably had this mindset: let’s reference something so obscure that nobody would understand it, but it sounds very “game-like” so that it is believable. Who here talks like that? Do you, dear reader? Because nobody I’ve ever known that is into games talks like this.

Another point that really grinds my gears is how studio execs and writers think we act as people. Let’s look at a movie called Grandma’s Boy. It had its comedic moments and is considered a cult classic, but the representation in that movie is way off. It labeled gamers as these potheads that still live with their parents and haven’t felt the touch of a woman once in their life. They even went so far as to portray one character as sleeping in a car bed and having a bedroom that looks like it belongs to a 5 year old.

I also think this is the movie that spread the rumour that being a videogame tester is the best job in the world, where you just play videogames all day and get paid for it. They forget the fact that vidoegame testing requires a person to jump up and down 35 000 times in one spot on every build of the game to see if it crashes and is widely considered as one of the most monotonous and soul wrenching jobs in the videogame development cycle.

The movie hit all the notes that I’m not happy with: people into geeky stuff are seen as a bunch of loser virgins, using obscure “geek talk” to elicit some form of comedy and just an alarming lack of self-awareness of the source material.

We still see interviews with pro-gamers that question whether they’re getting laid at all. Talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel ridicule the fact that we watch someone else play a game for entertainment. Out of touch media personalities that still think videogames are only played in your mom’s basement and that you should be ashamed that you spent 6 hours playing a videogame instead of sitting on your ass and watching a marathon of Storage Wars or whatever.

Look, I can go on all day. There’s so many examples of this happening that it is astounding, but what confuses me the most is that this geek culture we got going on isn’t obscure anymore. There’s a lot more people playing games and even the target demographics of some of those shows play mobile or casual games. What movies are considered blockbusters? Let’s look at some recent ones: Deadpool, based off a comic book character. Batman vs Superman, the earliest known superheroes. The Avengers. comic book characters. The list goes on.

Gaming is the biggest entertainment industry in the world right now and it’s not something that’s obscure anymore. Everyone at least knows of some games and the amount of people playing keeps growing every year.

Game of Thrones is a massively popular show and series based off comic book characters such as DareDevil and the Flash are the talk of the town. People are buying figurines and paraphernalia based on their favourite shows or pieces of media constantly.

Being a “geek” isn’t an unpopular thing anymore. It’s nearing the point where it’s becoming universal. The draconian way of thinking that some forms of entertainment are only consumed by no-life shut-ins is the same as thinking that someone with epilepsy is possessed by a demon.

We need to be proud of our geeky ways, not feel like it’s something meant to be ridiculed. We play and watch these things because they enrich our lives and give us some semblance of happiness. They’re not meant to be some lazy joke in some hack TV show written by someone that stuffed kids in lockers.

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MG Thabo

MG Thabo

Guest Contributor
Marko has played way too many games, listened to way too many metal albums and is probably taller than you. He is a qualified language and communication practitioner and likes to write about the good things in gaming.
Article Categories:
Editorial · Games


  • PikeyZA

    This encapsulates my feelings on the matter, love it!

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